State Senator Eric Bassler weekly update

Improving Our Foster Care System

The Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) is struggling to keep up with the skyrocketing number of children needing services in our state, which is partly caused by an increase in parental drug abuse due to the opioid epidemic.

To address this issue, Indiana legislators are discussing ways to improve services for vulnerable children and address the concerns of foster parents.

Senate Bill 1 would require courts considering out-of-home placement for a child to balance the child’s best interests with keeping him or her in a family-like setting.

This legislation would also require DCS to attempt to identify all adult relatives of a child at the time out-of-home placement is recommended, ensuring DCS is searching for a suitable family member from the moment a child enters the system.

SB 1 would also create a 24-hour hotline for family case managers, which would provide them with information and assistance when attempting to find out-of-home placement with the child’s relatives or foster care. The hotline would also help reduce the workload of family case managers and the amount of time it takes to place children in stable, safe homes.

Finally, this bill would create a “right of first choice” that would require a court to attempt to place a child with the same custodian if the child has repeated out-of-home placements. The difficulties faced by children who go through repeated out-of-home placements are unimaginable. Placing them in the care of adults they already have a relationship with would help provide some measure of stability in their lives.

To learn more about legislation authored this session that would improve our foster care system, click here.


Girls Go CyberStart

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security is encouraging female students in grades 9-12 to register for the Girls Go CyberStart competition.

Girls Go CyberStart is a cybersecurity skills-based competition that aims to promote career opportunities in cyber fields for women. This challenge supports Indiana’s focus on STEM education, including our goal to have computer science courses offered in K-12 schools by 2021.

Students interested in this challenge can register now through March 20.

For more information on and to register for Girls Go CyberStart, click here.




Free Tax Filing Opportunity

The Indiana Department of Revenue is offering free tax filing for state and federal taxes with Indiana’s free filing tax program, INfreefile.

This program allows anyone with an adjusted gross income of $66,000 or less to file their taxes for free using a simple question-and-answer type of software.

Click here for more information on INfreefile.


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